by Lynne Rae Perkins HarperTrophy, 1999 Review by Courtney Young on Oct 29th 2001
As much as we may not want to admit it - we all lose friends. It's especially
hard when there is no obvious reason for the end of a friendship. As we
grow older this becomes a normal part of life, because we realize people
grow and change in different directions which makes it difficult to maintain
relationships. Children on the other hand have to experience this often-painful
part of growing up in the absence of such realizations. Knowing such things
are normal and not necessarily our fault can mean a world of difference;
especially to an adolescent who is experiencing enough self-identity issues.
In All Alone in the Universe Lynne Rae Perkins beautifully executes
the telling this all too familiar childhood experience. The main character
Debbie watches as her best friend Maureen is slowly taken away from her
by Glenna; whom she thinks Maureen simply feels sorry for. It's not until
later in the book when she realizes that Maureen was not at all "taken",
rather she chose to go, and this was Debbie's source of hurt and disappointment.
Instead of being angry at this other girl she slowly realizes with the
help of some insightful adults she encounters along the way that there
is no one to blame. Sometimes though, it is easier for us to accept such
hardships when we can pin down its source; without one we feel almost lost.
The author breaks this book down into months, taking us on a yearlong journey
through the gradual disintegration of what was a great friendship. Although
rather sad at times the mere veracity of this experience is comforting
because we know we are not the only ones to whom this has happened.
In the beginning of the new school year Debbie slowly allows herself
to make a new friend. This gives us hope that although not all friendships
last forever we should not deny ourselves the opportunity to both have
friends and to be a friend. This book is filled with pen and ink illustrations
serving almost as doodles to Debbie's vivid and humorous imagination as
the tale unfolds. This book is a great read for both children and adults
because it is the re-telling of a universal life experience.